52 Books in 52 Weeks: 8/31 Beth Macy, Irene McKinney

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues.  (Reports are due every Sunday.)

I don't remember when I first met Beth Macy, maybe when she was giving some type of journalism workshop in Roanoke, while she still wrote for the Roanoke Times.  Her first book, Factory Man,  is out (here's my earlier post) and now that I've read it from cover to cover,  I can tell you it's full of heart and details. Even her unique format for the notes are readable and she includes an index (although her her descriptions are so memorable that I was able to keep the numerous characters straight without it.) Highly recommended.  In the future I'll write a review and perhaps do an interview.

 While I was up to her home town to attend Irene McKinney's funeral, I spent time in the local library and ordered  some of her books used.  My favorite seller was Better World Book Club, which raises money from its sales of donated books for all sorts of literacy projects.  (I think Irene would have liked that.)  I re-read two of them this week.  Still on the list:  Vivid Companion.

I met Irene McKinney, who was the Poet Laureate of West Virginia, in 2006 when she and I both attended Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition's  West Virginia Mountaintop Removal Writers' Tour.  I next saw her at the West Virginia Book Festival in 2010 when she was excited to be starting an MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  And then, in less than two years she was gone.

Her poems feature surprising word choices whether she's writing about life in West Virginia or imagining new poems in the voice of Emily Dickenson.

I'm happy  that the Virginia Tech Library has The girl with the stone in her lap (Plainfield, Vt. : North Atlantic Books, 1976 and Unthinkable : selected poems, 1976-2004 (Los Angeles, Calif, Red Hen Press, c2009.)  I'm going to recommend that they also order her posthumous collection, Have You Had Enough Darkness Yet? (BuckhannonWest Virginia Wesleyan College Press, September 1, 2013)